Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Dead Heat – THE NEW CHARLES AND ANNA NOVEL
Praised as the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,”* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal–or at least it starts out that way…
Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.
*Rex Robot Reviews
PRAISE FOR THE ALPHA AND OMEGA NOVELS
Briggs has created such a detailed and well thought out world that I am helpless to resist. – Fiction Vixen
[Briggs] spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters and magic and, my, does she do it well…If you like action, violence, romance and, of course, werewolves, then I urge you to pick up this series. – Happy Ever After on USA Today
Interesting, fast-paced urban fantasy with a nice tie-in to the ongoing Mercy Thompson series that fans are sure to enjoy…[an] imaginative writer who always leaves fans anxiously waiting for the next tale. – Monsters & Critics
Patricia Briggs is amazing…Her Alpha and Omega novels are fantastic. In fact, they’ve contributed greatly to new works in the paranormal romance field featuring werewolves. – Fresh Fiction
Review by By Gypsy Reader
Hmm. This one is a hard book to rate.
I feel a little like Goldi-locks. There was nothing overtly wrong with this book. It has a very nice even pace. There were two conflicts: one internal to Anna and Charles and one external to them. Both were very well plotted. Every single loose end was tied up perfectly.
But the book was missing something. What? Well: anticipation, excitement, and depth. Honestly, for a Patricia Briggs book, it was…boring. *Gasp*. Before you start hurling insults at me for denigrating your favorite author, let me say that Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors as well. So it pains me to say this. The book starts off with Anna and Charles acting like an old married couple and Anna’s 26th birthday is coming up. Bran has pointed out to Charles that some of Charles presents to Anna in the past have been more about Charles than Anna, and so he wants to get her something special. Then he gets a call from an old friend of his who raises horses, whom we (or Anna) have never heard mention of, and he decides to kill two birds with one stone: get Anna a horse as a present and see his old friend. But when he and Anna arrive they find that the Fae have attacked the family and that Charles and Anna have to step in and them help out.
So what’s the problem, you ask?
Well several things. First, the relationships in the book are not very well explored. There is a lot of opportunity for depth, but most of it is missed. For example, Charles turns someone into a werewolf to save their life, and he does it in an unusual way that literally forces the person to live though the change, something he had learned from watching his dad. This could have resulted in: Charles bonding with the particular person, feeling usually responsible for them and perhaps spending some time with them as a new werewolf. This doesn’t happen. We literally do not see Charles interact with the new wolf at all. And yes, he isn’t going to be the wolf’s alpha, and I get that, but he converts the person because he really likes what he sees of them, so I thought it would be nice to see him follow up on that. Anna does spend time with the person.
But really, I thought Charles should have as well and thought it would be good for Charles’ character development if he had. Alternately, it could have resulted in Charles and Bran having a great conversation about forcing someone through the change and how it feels to do that. About the time Bran did it, and about the responsibility of it. But neither of those things happened, and I felt that it was an opportunity missed. Another missed opportunity is with Charles’ friend Joseph, we are told what great friends they are, but there are a total of 4 short scenes between them, and two of them consist of the friend being worked on Charles in a meditative state while healing is channeled into him by the spirits.
I really would have liked a real meaty scene with Charles and Joseph that showed us the depth of their friendship. The meatiest scene about their friendship is Charles telling others about how they met and why they connected. But it was telling, not showing. And despite being told what great friends they were I didn’t feel it in any of the scenes where they interacted. Joseph was instead just the vehicle of the resolution of the internal conflict between Anna and Charles and the excuse for them to be in the right place at the right time to help out with another Fae problem. And I thought he deserved better.
All the missed opportunities gave the narrative a distance from the characters that I didn’t care for. And one I kept hoping Patricia would overcome, since I knew full well she can and has before but instead of spending time on the character development and depth of her human characters, spent an awful lot of the narrative on the various equine characters in this book instead. We were told the color, the lineage, the history, the formation and the personality of over 7 horses in this book. The depth of it all was completely unnecessary, even thought Anna and Charles were there to buy a horse and it was time that could have been spent instead on the humans. And I like horses! I am not sure why the horse faire/show was even a part of the book, it had no purpose and furthered the plot not one bit.
Additionally, the logic of the Gray Lords’ actions are not very well explained. Yes, they are at war with the humans. But why release what is basically a kidnapper that is well hidden so well hidden that people don’t even realize that there are victims, let alone who those victims are. Usually in a war you want splashy headlines and to instill fear in a broad audience. The most terrorized people in this book were the children themselves. And most of them were dead. It was frankly a head-scratcher. I mean if you are going to fight a war with a kidnapper as your weapon at least have it be one that takes more than one kid at a time, and that doesn’t hide their crime with a simulacrum. Have 5-10-15 kids stolen, all in one night. No clue or trace. Have families crying on the news begging for the children back. Make the human police look helpless and ineffectual.
So that the humans truly FEAR the Fae and realize just how out of their depth they are. Then have another 10-15 children who are also stolen, but replaced by the Simulacrum, so as we get into the plot we realize the first set of victims were the decoy so that people wouldn’t look deeper at the children behaving oddly, so that the plot is deeper and that these simulacrum were causing havoc and discord and deaths as well, but well hidden as no one is looking at the Simulacrum, and instead everyone is distracted into looking for the obvious missing children and their kidnapper. Have Anna and Charles be the ones who uncover the Simulacrum, and link them to the other kidnapped children, making them the only ones who looked deeper. There are so many BETTER ways to bring humans to their knees in a war using children as victims that this particular plot line didn’t work for me and it made me wonder what the Gray Lords were thinking in using what is the most subtle weapon they had.
So that’s the lack of depth for me in a nutshell. Now on to lack of excitement and anticipation. The issue there is simple. From the minute Charles comments on the smell of a particular character, I knew they were the villain. And I never felt any fear that Anna and Charles would be overwhelmed. That they would not succeed. That the danger was eminent or like I was biting my nails and flipping pages to the end. I was fully able to set this book down and walk away several times. Which rarely if ever has happened with Alpha and Omega series (I actually prefer this to the Mercy Thompson series), as usually I am engaged and immersed in the book, in the world, from beginning to end. Not so with this one. I even knew immediately when they caught the ‘bad guy’ early in the book, and Anna and Charles were not able to interview them, that it was a red herring. So it was no surprise at all that the person was a red herring and who the real villain was.
Overall, it was a perfectly decent installment. But not great. And so I give it three stars.
#1 New York Times bestselling author PATRICIA BRIGGS is also the author of the Mercy Thompson novels, including Night Broken and Frost Burned, among others. She lives in Washington State with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses.
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